So I’ve had the iPad for some time now, and I’ve decided to make a review of a number of the apps. Now you might be asking yourself why I’m doing this, and the reason for this, is because I want people who are thinking of buying the apps, to have a more rounded view of them, instead of having some trendy bearded man telling them it’s the best thing since sliced bread. I’ve taken a load of screen shots on my iPad for a number of the apps, however the more popular ones, which need not be pictured yet again have just a tiny review. So here goes.
First up is my Twitter client of choice. A number of people have been banging on about how great Tweetdeck for the iPad is, however I’ve never liked the desktop version, and I dislike the iPad version even more. Don’t get me wrong, if you want all worldly information shoved down your throat at once, you should download the app, but for me Twitterrific comes out top. Below is the landscape view for Twitterrific, you can see that it’s nice and simple, and does what it says on the tin.
Some nice features include inline photo viewing, that is whenever someone posts an image to a popular image sharing service, there is no need to leave the app – the photo will appear in lovely popup form. Also URLs are loaded within the app using Safari, meaning when you return, you haven’t lost your place in the list of tweets, and you don’t have to fiddle about getting back to the app. The client also features a well polished landscape mode (see below).
In this view you can quickly access the main time-line, as well as mentions, messages, favorites, and even search through trending topics. And if that wasn’t enough the app also has a 3 second sound-byte for when new tweets are flown in – that’s right, the tweeting of birds. It’s the simple things which make this app great. You can also quickly view your own profile with the tap of a button in the upper right-hand corner (see below).
SketchBook Pro (£4.99)
This is an app which has had a lot of hype surrounding it, when I first bought it, I was skeptical, thinking that drawing on the iPad might be just too odd – after all I hadn’t drawn with my finger for years. But this app lives up to the hype. Everything about the app is polished and really well done, and Autodesk have done a great job. It’s not the simplest of apps, but in saying that it isn’t all that hard to use. For example accessing the brushes palette is as simple as swiping three fingers down, which presents you with what you see below.
There is an extensive list of brushes, and a nice colour wheel to play with. But this app does far more than just paint. The app allows users to create multiple layers, draw shapes, “mirror draw” (not a technical term) – basically mirrors what you draw on one side, on the other, and even export to Photoshop. When on the go this app is really useful for just getting down an idea or two when it hits you; but more than that, this app is just plain fun to use, and acts as a valuable tool when trying to send messages across quite rooms, you can see such communication bellow 🙂
Now you may not have heard of this app, but it’s a hidden gem. On my Mac I use the productivity app “Things”, and I must say it does a great job. But when it comes to the iPad the £11.99 ($18) price tag is a joke. Although I’m sure it’s a great app, I just can’t justify spending such an amount of money on what is basically a to-do list application. So I opted for Sorted, and I’m glad I did. The app itself is really simple and serves a great purpose – list making. In my case I’m off on holiday in the near future and I want to make sure I don’t forget anything, and so this app is helping make sure I don’t.
Above is the interface for selecting a list, you can swipe left or right to get to the list you want, make a new list, duplicate a list, send a list via email (in the form of bullet-points), search for an item, and finally delete a list. All pretty standard features. When you select a list you simply need only to tap “New Item”, and you’re away. From there you can complete, delete, edit, and rearrange your items; and on top of that you can colour code your items like so.
With that interface you can also set a due date and clear the coding. Once you’ve colour coded your item it will look like the following.
You are then free to set sort by priority (the red items), due date, completed, or just plain list. I really like this app because it’s not trying to be your third arm, it’s nice and simple, and makes making lists a heck of a lot easier.
TV Guide (UK) (Free)
One for my fellow Britons now, the TV Guide app is the app version of the website TV Guide – and that’s right, it functions as an EPG. The guide is really simple, allowing you to view whats on on whatever channel, and provides a synopsis of every program when you tap on it. It’s a good use of space, and it’s nice to have an app for it, as I use it all the time. Users can customize channel lists by deleting and adding, and also by sorting them in whatever way you see fit. Below is pictured the landscape mode of the app.
I’ve spent ages trying to find a good weather app, and I think I may have just found it. Weather but is a really nicely designed app, which has a map of your current location at it’s heart. And although coverage may not be as comprehensive as I would like, the interface makes up for it. At the top (or on the right in landscape mode), we are shown all the current information, so things like temperature, wind chill, wind speed/direction, humidity, to name just a few, as well as the forecast for the day, and the next 6 days. You are then able to tap this forecast to view more details.
The app also allows you to observer temperature, pressure, humidity, wind speed, radar and various satellites as an overlay on the map, and alongside this provides animations as set out by the day’s forecast. This is a nice feature, but again the coverage isn’t as far reaching as I would have liked.
And for those of you wondering about the units – this is a setting. I’ve tried a number of other apps for the weather, seeing as how Apple sees fit to have an entire category dedicated to the apps, and I have found WeatherBug to be the best. The other all have minor issues that I just can’t get over – some have too few features, while others act as a meteorologist’s assistant – way too much information when all I want to know is the weather.
Right this is going to be short and sweet, as I know there are about a billion other reviews on the app, least of all from Apple. So from a user standpoint where does this app lye? Well it’s excellent, and so it should be. All the controls are nice and intuitive, e.g. rotating photos is a matter of holding two fingers down on the image and then rotating – simple! Resizing images is just as easy, and when resizing from the corner handle, the image retains aspect ratio as expected.
Other really nice features include the navigation – which allows you to quickly skim to any page by holding down your finger on the right hand side. Another really well made feature is the ability to add charts with fully customizable data. For example you are presented with the following view when you double tap a pie chart.
This produces really nice results which look stunning. Besides from features such as the about, and customizing photo frames, the basic functionality, that is, word processing, is simple and easy to use. When you go to type, obviously the on-screen keyboard pops up, as well as the toolbar for the manipulation of text, allowing you to select justification for the text, styling sch as bold/italic/regular, and also to alter the margins, as you can see below.
Overall this is a really nice app, and if you are someone who needs more than just work processing (the notes app), and who often needs to open up word/pages documents, this is a really great app for you. I should also note that you can get files onto your iPad via iTunes and Dropbox, as well as the fact that you are able to export files in .doc, .pages, and .pdf format.
This is a must for me personally, why? Because I often get emails from clients at 8PM asking me to “just move the footer down 10px” – and I need to be able to react to such things quickly. Gusto is an all-in-one FTP client and code editor, and allows you to easily make changes to a site at the drop of a hat. Setup is really easy – just enter a few bits of FTP info and you’re off. Below is the projects view, similar to that of Coda – something I like, and obviously I’ve not had it for a great deal of time, and have only added Tom’s Big Box.
After selecting a project you are taken to the editor, from that view you can easily access the FTP view of that project, and are then able to select files to upload or download. In this case I downloaded the header file for my current theme, as you can see below. The view is nice and simple, allowing you to select multiple files for downloads, as well as browse through the directories. From the view you are able to access the file’s information (name, size, last modified date), as well as the ability to delete that file, and take a peek at the file’s contents, which is nice and useful.
To edit a file you must first download it, this is a slight pain, but hardly the worst thing in the world. Once opened there are a number of options for you. First you are able to preview the file in a browser – both locally, and remotely, so if you’ve got server-side code such as PHP, it won’t break. When you have a file open you can also hide the file browser to have a more immersive view. You can also publish the file with a tap of the finger. One thing that concerned me before buying was the iPad’s keyboard, after all the greater/less than symbols aren’t available without switching through views, and for me this was going to be an issue. However the clever fellows behind this great app added a bar just above the keyboard with all the commonly used symbol for web design, as you can see below. On a side note the developers have said that code highlighting is coming – so it’s all good!
Next up is a tool for mocking-up websites and web applications. This is a really well put together app, and allows you to create comprehensive sketches. The app focuses around users being able to drag and drop common elements onto a canvas and then alter everything from position, size and colour. This app comes in handy when you need to quickly get an idea together for a website, and allows you to do so with speed and ease. Below is a sketch I made in about 10 minutes for an example website.
Other features include the ability to export the sketches as images and send them via email, as well as being able to duplicate sketches. However my favorite feature of this app is the way in which alignment is handled. As with may drawing apps, Sketchy shows guide lines for alignment whenever you reposition elements – a really useful feature which means you don’t have to rely on your steady finger to do with work. Below is an example of the feature in action.
I’ve used Ego for some time on my iPod now, and I really like it – it’s a simple way to track page views, subscriptions and other analytical information. So when I heard of the iPad version I downloaded straight away. The iPad version operates only in landscape mode and gives you access to widgets such as Feedburner, Mint, Google Analytics, Twitter, Vimeo, Squarespace, Tumblr, and Ember. The app has a really nice design and allows you to get an inline web view of the widget in question. So when using Mint, you will see your dashboard, and the same goes for Google Analytics. Overall this app is easy to use and gives you quick access to important information.
WordPress for iPad is a really sleep and speedy app. The app gives you access to pages, posts and comments – a modest, but correct selection. While the app won’t let you make changes to plugins and so fourth, it is great for publishing to your WordPress blog. The app speaks for itself in it’s simplicity and for anyone with a WP blog, it’s a must download. Below are some screen-shots from the app.
Above: post editing, nice and simple, with the ability to edit the title, tags, categories, status, content, and comments.
Above: comments, from here you can see the comment moderation queue as well as alter existing comments.
Above: the page editor – a simplified version of the post editor with many of the same features.
Overall the WordPress app is simple and well worth a download.
Weather HD (£0.59)
Now I know I’ve already touched on the weather apps, but I fell I should tell you about this one too. Weather HD is, as you may have guessed, a weather application, which tells you the forecast. But instead of a map and information, the app displays beautiful looping clips of similar weather to that which is currently forecast. Is this the best weather app for getting the forecast? No. But it seriously beautiful. Don’t get me wrong, the app is functional, it does tell you the forecast plain and simple, but if you’ve got a spare bit of cash lying around, it’s worth it just for the videos. Below is the video for “Chance of rain”.
If you have a Dropbox account, you need this app. If you don’t, go and sign up, and then download the app. The app is truely awesome, and although it may just be a fancy cloud-file browser, it’s done incredibly well. The basic functionality i simple – you can browse and preview files – most common file formats are supported.
When you open a file you can browse through it, email a public URL to a friend, favorite the file, and best of all, open certain files with other apps; specifically word/pages documents can be opened with Pages (if installed), the same goes for presentations and spreadsheets (Keynote/Numbers). The ability to do so is really wonderful because it means you can easily find and edit files within powerful apps while on the go.
The is a solid app and a must download – one thing I did try was adding a video to my Dropbox to play on my iPad – and it worked! Dropbox allows you to stream videos with ease – only limited by the amount of space in your account – so this is a really easy way of getting videos across the air. It’s also important to note that you can save photos, and upload photos/videos.
Okay so now I’m going to quickly go through a number of other great apps that I like, but which I feel have either been heavily publicized or are self explanatory, and so don’t require accompanying screen-shots.
Angry Birds HD (£2.99)
If you’ve ever played Angry Birds you will know just how addictive it really is, I played through on my iPod, and towards the end I noticed a lack in performance in some of the more complex levels (yes it’s a 1st gen iPod 🙂 ). So when I got the iPad I downloaded the HD version straight away. All the graphics have been updated for the iPad, and all the performance issues have faded away as expected. Overall this is an excellent game which if you haven’t tried, you should download.
Osmos HD (£2.99)
This is a relatively new addition to the app store (despite having desktop versions around for a while), and quickly rose to the number 1 spot. I downloaded it thinking “well it’s number 1, it must be good”, and I was right. The only thing I didn’t know when downloading, was, what the hell it was! So let me tell you quickly tell you about the game-play. Basically you are a blob, and you have to absorb blogs smaller than you to become the biggest blob. Sound like the #1 app in the app-store? No. Basically it’s pretty addictive and challenging, and I recommend it, you won’t be disappointed; oh and it’s beautiful!
Solitaire City (Deluxe) (£3.49)
Okay short and sweet. If you like solitaire, get this app. I spent a while trying to find an app with the version of the game I like the most – that is, the one featured on Windows under the name “Spider Solitaire” – and I can tell you now, it features in this app. The interface isn’t dissimilar to that of the Windows version, and there a crazy amount of variations of the game – so again, if you like solitaire, get this app.
Now this is a game that loads of gamers talk about, and after playing it for a while I can tell you that it’s truly excellent. I myself do game, but I’m hardly the world’ best (far from it), but I found this game easy to use and fun. The experience is really well polished and the graphics, for a mobile device, are awesome. If you like racing games, you will love RealRacingHD, and so I recommend you get it.
TapTap Radiation (Free)
Tapulous have always produced high quality games, and Radiation is no exception. The game is really well suited to the iPad (possibly because it was designed for it?) and is really fun to play. The interface and general experience is fun and reflects the company’s previous releases, and best of all, it’s free!
Another app highly publicized, Epicurious is pretty cool. However it’s not what I expected. The interface is really sleek and well designed, and the recipes are of good, not great, quality, with a number featuring an image. The ability to search by main ingredient is really nice too. One thing I will say is that this app is buggy as hell. It crashes all the time, and frequently won’t respond to finger taps – I hope these are just teething problems, and I’m sure they will be eradicated with future updates.
Yep, it’s a nice app. If you want to quickly find a film or actor this is what you should use. The interface is really sleep, and it’s a great reference tool. The ability to view relevant photos and videos including trailers is a nice addition, and overall I would say this is a really well build, cohesive experience.
And that’s it! I hope you’ve enjoyed this list of apps, and I hope you have gained a better insight into what the above apps have to offer, I’ve noted things that I wanted to know before buying, as so I hope you are now better informed about at least one of the apps above. If you have any suggestions for great iPad apps, or if you agree or disagree, feel free to leave a comment, and I’ll see what I can do.
One response to “My Favourite iPad apps so far”
I LOVE ‘tvguide’; it’s really good.